Children love birthdays. They get excited for the presents, the cake and ice cream. Many families plan and execute grand and flashy celebrations. But whether your party is big or small, underlying the event is the great joy being directed toward God for creating our children in the first place.
Each year at the birthday of my children I pause to remember the day they were born, the first time I held them, and usually some key moments from their growing up that I treasure. This I believe is probably a universal experience shared by most parents.
But there is another celebration, even greater than their life birthday for us to acknowledge. It is the anniversary of their baptism. While life birthdays are joyful, at the heart of this life is the fact that we are all born outside of fellowship with God the Father. Being human carries with it a particular nature. We are sinful. Our bodies carry the curse of sin as a characteristic of our nature.
It hardly seems fair. We don’t want to think that this adorable little child in our arms that brings tears of joy to our eyes is a sinner and will someday die. But it is a fact taught in the Bible. No one escapes death. No one.
Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” ESV
But by the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 we are told to baptize all nations in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us why in John’s gospel, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” 3:5-6.
Flesh is doomed to die. Spirit is eternal. Baptism is the gift that delivers forgiveness and restores our children to live eternally with God. This is exciting news. What is it that you want for your child? Only the very best life they can have. The very best life is one where God is present everyday forgiving, comforting, consoling, and guiding that they may serve Him and neighbor to bring glory to God.
Celebrating a Child’s Baptism Does Three Important Things
- It reinforces in the child’s mind that their baptism is important.
- It is an opportunity for the family to give thanks to God.
- It is a reminder that we are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God.
Five Ideas to Make Your Child Understand the Importance of Their Baptism
DESIGNATE A SPECIAL CANDLE TO USE YEAR AFTER YEAR.
Take it out and set it in the center of the dinner table. Light it (the child might do this when old enough) and say a prayer thanking God for the birthday that gives the child eternal life. Here at St. James we give each child a candle during the rite of baptism for that purpose.
THROW A PARTY
Make it as big and splashy as their life birthday. The fact is that the first birthday gives life to the flesh, the second birthday gives life to the spirit and defeats death. That deserves a celebration. Don’t forget to invite their friends. You may be surprised at the opportunity to witness to another family. Our Christian faith should not be hidden, but openly seen.
SHOW PICTURES, VIDEOS, MOMENTOS OF THE ACTUAL DAY.
God wants us to remember our baptism, so relive the day in story and memorabilia. Artifacts are one way culture is developed in a group. Looking at the gifts given, the people who attended, and the actual service if recorded helps to see the tangibles that make the abstract more concrete.
MAKE SURE THE SPONSORS OR GOD PARENTS ARE CLUED INTO YOUR PLANS FOR A CELEBRATION.
If you selected well, they will be regularly praying for your child and for you and encouraging you on your faith journey so they won’t need much of a nudge. One of my children’s sponsors bought a few rolls of a special wrapping paper before her first anniversary and each year sent her a little gift wrapped in the same paper. When their gift arrived and she saw the paper she immediately knew this was for her baptism birthday.
DON’T LET ONE DAY DEFINE YOUR CHILD’S CELEBRATION.
As parents you are given the responsibility to lead by example, so go to church and Bible school regularly. Let them see you praying and reading your family Bible. Read Bible stories to them. We give an age appropriate Bible as a gift to each family. Just read the stories. They will enjoy hearing them over and over again and will after a time find their own favorites. Don’t worry about explaining them until they ask. The Holy Spirit will use the stories when He is ready. When they do ask be prepared. We give each family a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Parents should read this first and then to their children. When they ask you a difficult question like, “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?” don’t panic, tell them to ask their Pastor. That’s why he’s there.
These are just a few effective ways to help them grow into the person God has made them to be. Blessings on the journey and happy parenting!